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Confronting COVID-19

OUA cancels fall term sport programming amid COVID-19 concerns

Ontario University Athletics and U SPORTS have announced the cancellation of fall sports programming and championships up to Dec. 31, 2020. This decision applies, provincially and nationally, to all varsity sport programs, including those that do not compete in OUA and U SPORTS.

The decision was made based in consultation with medical and public health authorities, and with the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, administrators, officials, and fans as the number one priority.

“As a varsity community we are all disappointed by this news, and we know how difficult and heartbreaking this is for our student-athletes,” says Leslie Dal Cin, Executive Director, Queen’s Athletics & Recreation. “We know better than most how much our student-athletes, coaches and supporters dedicate their lives to their sport, and the pride they have in playing for Queen’s.   We will be providing support to students during this difficult time, and look forward to a return to play as soon as it is safe to do so.”

OUA and U SPORTS have not made a decision about the winter season. This will be confirmed later in the fall term. The OUA will be closely monitoring the ongoing health considerations and viability for these future opportunities over the coming months. Updates will be provided as they become available, and answers to commonly asked questions will be continually updated on the Gaels website.

“This decision and announcement raise many new questions and concerns about what activity might be possible this fall,” says Dal Cin. “The future will be determined by the evolving nature of the pandemic, government directives, public health and University guidance. We very much want to see our varsity and recreation programs back in action, and will re-open facilities and re-start in-person training and activity when we are permitted and it is safe to do so.” 

Athletics and Recreation will continue to provide remote training programs and opportunities for student-athletes and teams/clubs to connect online, as well as virtual fitness class that are accessible to the community.

Canada West and Atlantic University Sport have announced they too have cancelled their respective fall-term sport schedules.

Pandemic highlights the need for a surveillance debate beyond ‘privacy’

Privacy regulation can’t keep pace with the supersystems collecting, analyzing and using personal data.

A silhouetted man stands in front of a digital display.
Governments are implementing surveillance technologies to monitor and control the spread of COVID-19. (Unsplash / Chris Yang)

The coronavirus pandemic has stirred up a surveillance storm. Researchers rush to develop new forms of public health monitoring and tracking, but releasing personal data to private companies and governments carries risks to our individual and collective rights. COVID-19 opens the lid on a much-needed debate.

For example, Google and Apple teamed up to offer privacy-preserving contact-tracing help. The scramble for data solutions is well-meaning, but whether they work or not, they generate risks beyond narrowly-defined privacy.

Everyone has extensive digital records — health, education, employment, police contact, consumer behaviour — indeed, on our whole life. Privacy is much more than shielding something we’d rather not share; surveillance also affects our chances and choices in life, often in critical ways.

Early computerization obliged governments to see that regulation was needed as personal data was collected for more and more purposes. At first the data came from credit cards, driver’s licences and social insurance; today it’s constant device-use. But privacy regulation alone can’t keep pace with today’s supersystems for data collection, analysis and use that generate the kind of negative discrimination that demands data justice.

Surveillance and profit

Shoshana Zuboff’s book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is making headlines for its close analysis of how Google achieves its surveillance, why and with what consequences. Zuboff insists that a new mode of economic accumulation has been rapidly emerging ever since internet-based platforms — led by Google — discovered how to monetize the so-called “data exhaust” exuded by everyday online communications: searches, posts, tweets, texts. Beyond the loss of privacy, she sees the destruction of democracy and behavioural modification, citing a former Facebook product manager who says the “fundamental purpose” of data workers is to influence and alter people’s moods and behaviour.

One cannot miss Zuboff’s cri de coeur and its scathing rebuke to the “radical indifference” of these platforms. But what will it take to persuade us that today’s surveillance has become a basic dimension of our societies that threatens more than personal privacy? Surveillance is complicated, arcane and apparently out-of-control but those don’t excuse our complacency. Rather, they’re reasons for digging into some of the main dimensions of surveillance, prying open black boxes and reasserting human agency.

Let’s disturb some common assumptions that surveillance is about video cameras, state intelligence and policing, producing suspects and challenging privacy. Google assuredly does surveillance, which is commonly defined as “any focused, routine, systematic attention to personal details, for the purpose of control, influence or management.”

Two survellance cameras on a white wall.
Personal devices — mainly smartphones — provide a way to constantly track and monitor our movements, habits and consumption patterns. (Unsplash / Pawel Czerwinski)

It’s not just CCTV cameras, it’s also smart devices

Yes, it’s our laptops, phones and tablets. Surveillance is now digital and data-driven.

For too long, the stereotypical icon of surveillance has been the video camera. The French roots of the word surveillance means to “watch over,” which is what cameras do. And these are becoming smarter, when enhanced by facial recognition technology.

Clearview AI, for instance, scrapes billions of images from platforms such as Facebook or Google, selling services to major police departments in the United States and, until recently, Canada.

But today, what deserves to be the stereotypical icon is the smartphone. This, above all, connects the individual with corporations that not only collect but analyze, sort, categorize, trade and use the data we each produce. Without our permission, our data are examined and used by others to influence, manage or govern us. Data analysis enables prediction — and then “nudging” — of specific population groups to buy, behave or vote in hoped-for ways.

It’s not just the state, it’s the market

While the state and its agencies often overreach through intelligence and policing strategies, it is the market and not the state that holds the cards in the surveillance game.

Few noticed in the early 20th century that department stores, like Syndicat St-Henri in Montréal, kept detailed customer records, giving or withholding credit according to their status.

A pivotal moment was 9/11 when high-tech companies, craving customers after the dot-com bust, offered their services to government.

Today, our massively augmented data profiles indicate value to businesses. Those data are valuable to others too, like election consultants.

Surveillance is for sorting

Surveillance and suspects once belonged neatly together — those who were thought to be miscreants were watched. But in this big data era, all personal details are up for grabs.

What French sociologist Jacques Ellul worried about in 1954 has transpired: the police quest for unlimited information makes everyone a suspect. But Ellul never guessed how this could morph into a global network of systems, far beyond policing, in which everyone becomes a target.

But everyone is not targeted in the same way. Surveillance — whether for welfare, commerce or policing — sorts populations into categories for different treatment. This social sorting works in marketing to organize consumers. In China today, social credit systems are used by the government and commerce to monitor and rank citizens’ behaviour and social capital.

This is not only about privacy, it’s also about data justice.

Surveillance is a challenge to digital rights, because it is based on fundamental inequalities and unfair practices. Vulnerable groups discover their disadvantages are deepened.

Privacy laws rightly protect an individual’s right to privacy of movement, home and communication in a democratic society. But we need a radical new direction, prompted by our knowing how data analytics, algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence are reshaping our social environment. The analysis and uses of the data have to be addressed, invoking new categories such as digital rights and data justice.

Surveillance challenges

Just scratching the surface of 21st-century surveillance reveals how vastly things have changed. The landscape of surveillance has shifted tectonically from following suspects, watching workers and classifying consumers to monitoring and tracking everyone — now for public health — on an unprecedented scale.

Privacy is undoubtedly a casualty, and so are basic freedoms of democracy, expectations of justice and hopes for social solidarity and public trust. These demand serious attention, not just from policy-makers and politicians, but from computer scientists, software engineers and everyone who uses a device.

The stakes are high, but the future is not foreclosed.The Conversation

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David Lyon, Director, Surveillance Studies Centre, Professor of Sociology, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Incoming Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences to advise province on pandemic response

The Government of Ontario has named Dr. Jane Philpott a special advisor on a new health data platform that will improve prevention and response to COVID-19.

Dr. Jane Philpott
Incoming Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Dr. Jane Philpott has been named by the provincial government as a special advisor on a new health data platform. 

Several Queen’s experts have played an active role in helping the Government of Ontario respond to the ongoing pandemic. Jane Philpott, who begins her term as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences on July 1, is now joining the effort as well.

On June 4, the province announced that Dr. Philpott had been appointed as the special advisor to support the design and implementation of the new Ontario Health Data Platform, a tool that will help researchers and health systems better respond to COVID-19.

“Whether on the frontlines of health care or as a medical educator or in this new role as special advisor, I'm honoured to be part of Ontario's fight against COVID-19,” Dr. Philpott said in a release issued by the Ontario government. "This integrated data platform is an essential element in the province's response to the pandemic. I look forward to watching how it will facilitate a broad range of health research and support quality improvements in clinical care.”

The Ontario Health Data Platform is being developed in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner. The information that the platform will gather will help researchers to increase detection of COVID-19; discover risk factors for vulnerable populations; predict when and where outbreaks may happen; evaluate the effectiveness of preventative and treatment measures; and identify where to allocate equipment and other resources.

“Dr. Philpott has extensive leadership experience in the health care system and her advice will be invaluable as we finalize the creation of the Ontario Health Data Platform,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a release issued by the Ontario government. “This data platform will provide our world-class researchers and health system partners with secure access to better and more consistent population data, improving decision-making in health care and aiding our efforts to beat COVID-19.”

At the federal government level, Dr. Philpott served Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services, and as President of the Treasury Board. She was announced as the next dean of Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences in February and will succeed Richard Reznick in the role.

To learn more about the Ontario Health Data Platform and Dr. Philpott’s appointment, see the Ontario government’s website.

To learn more about how Queen’s experts are playing a leading role in advising the Ontario government’s response to COVID-19, see the interviews the Gazette conducted with Troy Day and Chris Simpson. Dr. Day, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is serving on the Provincial COVID-19 Modelling Table. And Dr. Simpson, Vice-Dean (Clinical) of the Faculty of Health Sciences, is serving as the clinical science lead on Ontario Health’s COVID-19 Health System Response Oversight Table.

Innovative research advancing understanding of COVID-19

The Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization funds six new projects to help fight the global pandemic.

Modifying existing antiviral drugs for better outcomes and revealing the mechanisms of a mysterious blood clotting syndrome are among six new COVID-19 research projects being pursued by researchers and clinician scientists at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), Kingston General Health Research Institute (KGHRI), and Queen’s University. The research is supported by funding totalling $670,000 from the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO).  

“These researchers are recognized as leaders and innovators in their respective fields, and their work has the potential to significantly advance global understanding of this complex and perplexing disease,” says Dr. Steve Smith, Vice-Dean Research, Faculty of Heath Sciences, Queen’s, Vice President, Health Sciences Research, KHSC, and President & CEO, KGHRI. 

The list of funded projects is below: 

Stephen Archer and Victor Snieckus - Synthesis and preclinical testing of novel small molecule therapies for COVID-19 

Currently no drugs have been proven effective in randomized clinical trials for treating the severe respiratory effects of COVID-19. Drs. Archer (Medicine) and Snieckus (Chemistry) are confronting this challenge on two fronts. Firstly, they will modify existing antiviral drugs to improve their metabolism and efficiency and reduce their toxic side effects. On a second front they have identified that SARS-CoV-2 kills cells and may impair oxygen sensing by damaging mitochondria in lung cells. They will explore a novel mitochondrial pathway to combat the “happy hypoxemia (low oxygen without appropriate shortness of breath), which characterizes COVID-19 pneumonia, and to prevent cell death by protecting mitochondria from SARS-CoV-2. Sussex Research Inc. (Ottawa) is collaborating in the antiviral drug synthetic work and dissemination of the results.   

Paula James and David Lillicrap - Coagulopathy: Understanding and Treating a Novel Entity  

Drs. James (Medicine) and Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), leading researchers in clinical and molecular hemostasis, are studying the links between COVID-19 coagulopathy, an unexplained and potentially fatal blood-clotting syndrome associated with SARS-CoV-2, and von Willebrand Factor (VWF), a blood clotting protein. They are collaborating with researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto) and Vermont Medical Center who are studying the effects of the blood thinner heparin on COVID-19, which has been shown in preliminary research to help these patients. The role of VWF in this disorder has not yet been studied, and the KHSC and KGHRI researchers aim to gain better understanding of the mechanisms of VWF in COVID-19 coagulopathy, potentially leading to the development of new treatments.    

David Maslove and Michael Rauh - COVID-19 and the Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care  

Drs. Maslove (Medicine) and Rauh (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) are part of an international genetics study examining why some patients are affected more severely by COVID-19 than others. They will be looking at the genomes of patients admitted to intensive care units across Ontario and then comparing them to those of a healthy control population. Using advanced computing techniques, they will be able to look at hundreds of thousands of subtle genetic variations across the population, to determine which of these are associated with outcomes. Knowing more about these variations will lead to new strategies for fighting the virus.  

Martin Petkovich, Jacob Rullo and Martin tenHove - Coronavirus infection of the ocular mucosa to model infection and systemic immunity 

Drs. ten Hove (Ophthalmology), Rullo (Ophthalmology), and Petkovich (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences) are studying local and systemic immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection using a physiological model that will examine how the virus infects the mucosal layer of the eyes. They will also determine the efficacy of administering a vaccination via this route to see if it generates systemic immunity against coronaviruses, and then use these results to study how the disease progresses in vaccinated and non-vaccinated models.    

Robert Siemens and Charles Graham - The Role of BCG-induced innate immune memory in the protection against coronavirus   

Countries that use the vaccine Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) to prevent tuberculosis show lower rates of coronavirus infection than those who do not. Intriguingly, this vaccine has also been used to successfully treat bladder cancer. Drs. Siemens (Urology) and Graham (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences) believe that BCG enhances the body’s innate immune system. Their research aims to understand the immune-system mechanisms that lead to these protective benefits, and whether this vaccine could be used to protect against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.    

Stephen Vanner and Prameet Sheth - The application of metabolomics to enhance detection of COVID-19 and predict disease severity: A proof-of-principle study   

Drs. Vanner (Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit) and Sheth (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) will use specialized mass spectrometry to study the metabolites found in nasopharyngeal (upper throat) samples of COVID-19.  Their aim is to identify the unique signature of these tiny molecules, compared to other causes of respiratory infections such as the common cold. This metabolomic signature holds promise as a more sensitive, rapid and accurate identifier and predictor of the severity of the disease than current methods. It will also enable future studies on COVID-19 detection, prediction of disease severity, and virus identification in asymptomatic individuals. 

These projects are examples of research confronting COVID-19 being undertaken within the Kingston and Queen’s community. The Vice-Principal (Research) also recently announced the first round of results for the Rapid Response competitionfund and support research projects that will contribute to the development, testing, and implementation of medical or social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 

Lessons learned from remote learning

Megan Edgelow
Megan Edgelow, an assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, writes about the process of transitioning the course OT852 – Group Theory and Process to a remote learning format with students designing online group sessions. (Supplied photo)  

The following blog is written by Megan Edgelow, an assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, and first published through Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Richard Reznick’s Dean on Campus blog.

This spring has unfolded in some unexpected ways for first-year students of the MSc in Occupational Therapy (OT) program. Students returned to campus in early March, fresh from their first two-month clinical placements across the province, and the country, ready to dig into a spring term of learning while applying their recently expanded clinical skills. Just one week of face-to-face learning took place before students left campus and courses moved online due to COVID-19, and students once again found themselves scattered across the country when learning resumed online in late-March.

For my teaching, the move online presented some challenges in OT852 – Group Theory and Process. This course traditionally blends group theory and practical group leadership experiences, with teams of OT students designing and leading health-oriented groups for community volunteers in the Clinical Education Centre of the Faculty of Health Sciences. While theory may lend itself to online lectures and textbook readings, the applied learning activities in the course were more difficult to reconceptualize. Thankfully, with some creative thinking, and the flexibility of the OT students, all the learning objectives could be met remotely.

My course team and the students turned our usual face-to-face class times into regular Zoom sessions covering the necessary group theory, and then used the “breakout rooms” feature of Zoom to allow the students to work in teams. These smaller online rooms provided the students with a virtual environment where they could effectively engage in group collaboration, including the designing and planning of OT group sessions, while continuing to receive essential formative feedback from instructors.

To replace the in-person Clinical Education Centre experience, further creativity was needed. This year, the OT students designed “Healthy Aging” groups, creating content to address the physical, emotional, social and spiritual factors that influence the aging process, responding to the performance and engagement issues that the aging process can bring. Teams of students designed online group sessions around a variety of topics, including falls prevention, physical activity, leisure activity, time use and routines, spirituality, and coping skills for use in daily life and with the stress of COVID-19. Students then recruited adults and older adults from their own lives, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, and neighbours to volunteer as their group participants.

ORemote learning OT852 – Group Theory and Processver the course of two weeks in May, 10 teams led and recorded three group sessions each, for a total of 30 “Healthy Aging” group sessions, with over 50 community participants.

Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. They learned new things about staying healthy later in life, as well as ways to cope in daily life and during the global pandemic, and they appreciated the opportunity to connect remotely with the OT students and other participants during a particularly isolated time. Some participants even asked to keep in touch with each other to keep applying their learning and supporting one other.

For myself and my co-instructors, who had the pleasure of watching the recorded group sessions and providing the OT students with feedback on their leadership skills, the learning was clear. Our students designed creative, engaging and supportive sessions for their participants, learning about leadership in a new way during an unprecedented time in health care.

Given the ongoing need for flexibility in health service delivery, and the expanding nature of telehealth and remote health care, this learning experience sows the seeds for these OT students as future action-oriented, responsive and adaptive leaders. This evolving health care environment continues to provide opportunities for Occupational Therapists to lead in health systems adaptations, addressing issues of performance and engagement, and focusing on meaning, purpose and connection with patients and clients as their health journeys unfold in real time.

Educating future frontline health care professionals

Kingston hospital sites will provide unique learning opportunities for health sciences students during COVID-19.

Three health care professionals are seen as they work on a medical procedure.
As of June 1, approximately 200 students from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University will return to local Kingston hospitals to complete clinical placements and clerkships. (Photo by Matthew Manor / KHSC)

Health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, and therapists, are some of the frontline workers being hailed as heroes for their efforts supporting communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. For students entering these professions, the current crisis has posed challenges to course requirements, potentially affecting graduation timelines, in a context where frontline professionals are needed more than ever before.

As of June 1, approximately 200 students from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s will return to local Kingston hospitals to complete clinical placements and clerkships that are key to their future frontline work.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in March, leaders from Queen’s, in consultation with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Providence Care, made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend student placements as part of the ramping down of services and to preserve resources. Now, because of several factors, including a particularly low prevalence of the virus in the Kingston region, local teaching hospitals and centres are now able to slowly reintroduce students from Queen’s into the clinical environment.

“We have been keen to have students in the Faculty of Health Sciences return to their clinical placements,” says Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. “Not only do they play an important role in the delivery of health care at our hospitals, they will be re-entering in a very unique context that presents incredible learning opportunities.”

The university worked closely with the regional hospitals and KFL&A Public Health to ensure that the students will be reintroduced to the system in a way that prioritizes safety.

“We are working with our partners in education and have developed safety measures to make sure students are phased into the hospital setting in a way that will keep them, our patients, and our staff as safe as possible,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, Chief of Staff at KHSC.

All students who are returning to complete their clinical placements and clerkships are required to self-quarantine in Kingston for two weeks prior to starting at the teaching hospitals. While they are on-site at KHSC and Providence Care, students will follow staff safety policies and procedures, including completing training on current COVID-19-related protocol, adhering to the staff screening process, and conserving personal protective equipment.

Additionally, students will be required to self-monitor for symptoms throughout their programs. They must be symptom-free for two weeks in order to participate in any in-person activities.

“As an academic health sciences centre, students play a vital role in the care of our patients, clients and residents. We’re looking forward to welcoming them back to our hospital and community programs safely,” says Allison Philpot, Director of Medical Administration at Providence Care. 

Once-in-a-Lifetime Learning Opportunity

While it may not be business-as-usual, the clinical environment will offer a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for students, many of whom are close to graduating and in search of permanent employment.

"Having the opportunity to complete my clinical placement means that I can work towards graduating on time, allowing me to use the nursing skills I've learned at Queen's to compassionately care for patients and families,” notes Bayley Morgan, School of Nursing, Class of 2020. “I am eager to join our heroic nurses and health care workers in supporting those affected by illness and injury, and in contributing to a safe and respectful practice environment."

The students look forward to returning to their clinical settings and credit university and hospital administration for developing creative solutions to allow them to meet their educational goals, while keeping their safe return to clinical duties at the forefront of efforts.

"The Class of Meds 2021 is eager to return to help serve the health care needs of Kingstonians and is confident that the reintegration into the clinical learning environment will go smoothly,” says Josh Gnanasegaram and Rae Woodhouse, Class of 2021 Co-Presidents, School of Medicine. “We see these coming months as a pivotal time in the re-shaping of health care systems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are excited to be actively involved in that process.”

The reintroduction of students to clinical placements is part of a gradual and evolving re-opening of in-person activities that is being led by Queen’s University administration.

Ventilators co-designed by a Canadian team led by Queen’s Nobel Laureate ready to go

Ottawa orders 10,000 ventilators developed by team led by Art McDonald and global collaborators in fight against COVID-19.

MVM Ventilator
An MVM ventilator shown during development.

An international ventilator design team, led in part by Queen’s Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, reached a new milestone today, with the Government of Canada announcing an agreement with global manufacturing firm Vexos to produce 10,000 Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) units that will help assist the country’s efforts to confront COVID-19.

"Throughout this period of crisis, we continue to see Canadian companies across the country making tremendous contributions to fight COVID-19,” says Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry. “The story of Dr. Art McDonald, his team, and Vexos is one of true innovation. These new, easy to build ventilators are a great example of Canadian innovation at work and will be a key resource for our hospitals to save lives."

Minister Bains shared news of the order in a tweet yesterday.

The MVM device is an innovative, simple but powerful ventilator designed to address the specific needs of patients severely affected by COVID-19. Through collaboration between Italian, American, and Canadian physicists, engineers, and companies, the device was conceived, developed, and secured FDA authorization in the U.S. inside of six weeks. Health Canada review for the Canadian units will occur soon and delivery of the units is expected to commence in July 2020.

"I have enjoyed working with such a skilled and dedicated team of scientists and engineers, including our Canadian manufacturing partners, in this humanitarian effort,” says Dr. McDonald, who has been leading a Canadian team, including TRIUMF Laboratory, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, SNOLAB, and the McDonald Institute. “Everyone is strongly motivated to make a difference in this difficult situation for Canada and the rest of the world."

The project gained public attention in early April after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the project as one of the key examples of how Canadian researchers were working together to provide effective and creative solutions to supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams also caught the attention of major philanthropists from across Canada who stepped up to support the effort’s progress.

Learn more about the project on the Research at Queen’s website.

Rapid Response funding awarded to help confront COVID-19

The Vice-Principal (Research) announces first round of internal funding for projects supporting medical and social coronavirus related solutions.

In late March, the Queen’s University Vice-Principal (Research) launched the Rapid Response competition to fund and support research projects that will contribute to the development, testing, and implementation of medical or social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19. Thirteen applicants have received funding in the first round. 

The successful projects range from the development of a biosensor tool to psychotherapy programs for addressing mental health issues. Queen’s researchers are also examining the government response on household finances and planning for more effective physical distancing measures. 

Congratulations to the first round of Rapid Response funding recipients, says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). These are outstanding projects that span the key research areas important to both managing the virus itself and understanding its social and economic impacts. I will follow these projects with great interest.” 

The successful projects include: 

  • Stephen Archer (Medicine)  Synthesis and preclinical testing of novel small molecule therapies for COVID-19. 

  • Aristides Docoslis (Chemical Engineering)  Developing, validating, and implementing a portable diagnostic prototype (COVID-19 Scanner) for rapid, point-of-care detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from nasopharyngeal swabs. 

  • Nazanin Alavi (Psychiatry)  Online delivery of psychotherapy, tailored to patients' suffering from mental health problems due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Xiaolong Yang (Pathology and Molecular Medicine)  Developing of a biosensor tool using an ultra-bright bioluminescent enzyme purified from glowing deep-sea shrimp to "visualize" and quantify the interaction between viruses and cells. 

  • Amy Wu (Mechanical and Materials Engineering)  Designing, testing, and evaluating low-cost, medical grade face shields that can be easily produced by the rapid prototyping resources within our community. 

  • Tom Hollenstein (Psychology) – Examining the use of digital technology to inform universities, clinicians, and policymakers as they make recommendations for coping with the emotional fall-out of social distancing. 

  • Nicole Myers (Sociology) – The project will use official data, review government policy and legal decisions, observe virtual courts and conduct interviews to understand the changes in bail practices and discretionary release decision making in response to the pandemic. 

  • Setareh Ghahari (Rehabilitation Therapy)  Identifying the challenges that Kingston refugee youth are likely to face when attempting to reorient themselves to online learning during this unprecedented time. The goal is to provide solutions/recommendations that could help mitigate those challenges and improve the students’ online learning experience. 

  • Robert Clark (Economics)  Providing policymakers with the information necessary to adopt new measures, or to fine tune existing ones, in order to minimize COVID-19’s detrimental effects on the financial situation of Canadian households and to limit the risks to the stability of the financial sector. 

  • John Meligrana (Geography and Planning)  Developing a set of comprehensive physical distancing guidelines tailored to the gradual reopening of our cities, communities and country as well as more being more sensitive to the impacts on vulnerable communities. 

  • Warren Mabee (Policy Studies)  Creating an integrated policy response to facilitate Canadian recovery from COVID-19. 

  • Imaan Bayoumi (Family Medicine)  Exploring the hidden social, emotional and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health countermeasures on residents of Kingston and area, with a focus on marginalized groups such as those using substances, living in poverty, single parents, children or people suffering from mental health conditions, chronic health conditions and family conflict. 

  • Oded Haklai (Political Studies) Tracking and comparing the measures taken by governments around the world, examining check-and-balances on executive power that remain, and assessing the extent to which democracy can be resumed in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

For more information on the Rapid Response competition, visit the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research). 

Queen’s University opens limited outdoor facilities

The university has opened two fields and a tennis court on main campus for limited use.

Effective Friday May 22, Queen’s University will re-open the following outdoor facilities for casual, informal use. Physical distancing requirements remain in effect.

  • Nixon Field
  • Tindall Field
  • Tindall Field Running Track
  • Summerhill Tennis Courts

All other Athletics & Recreation facilities, including ALL fields and buildings at the West Campus remain closed.

Provincial Emergency Measures and City of Kingston bylaws remain in effect. 

Use of any of the University’s opened outdoor spaces remain subject to the following conditions:

  • Provincial Emergency Measures and City By-laws remain in effect
  • Physical distancing restrictions required at all times (minimum of 2 metres apart)
  • Individual activities only
  • No group or organized activity permitted (practices, games, etc.)
  • Maintain safety measures (wash hands, cough into elbow, wear masks, remove litter)
  • Bring hand sanitizer/water; wash hands before/after use of the facility
  • No dogs permitted
  • Use at own risk
  • Follow directions of Queen's Campus Security and Staff

Failure to comply with any of the conditions above may result in individuals being removed from the facilities, and/or closure of the facility.

Group bookings of the facilities listed above cannot be made at this time.

Keep up to date on the University’s COVID-19 safety precautions here

Up to date information on A&R facilities, programs and services can be found here.

Global community responds to need

Smith School of Business community in China sends thousands of masks to Kingston.

Cindy Liang (Comm'23), left, delivers a shipment of masks to Ann van Herpt, director of supply chain services at 3SO.

In these trying times, there are many examples of people helping families, friends, neighbours and strangers. The Smith School of Business community – which spans the globe and encompasses students, staff, faculty, alumni, partners and more – is no different.

As a business school with deep international ties, Smith has long benefited from its relationships around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Smith community have repeatedly demonstrated their eagerness to join together to help those in need.

Over the past few months, there has been a well-documented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by frontline health-care workers facing the threat of COVID-19. As the crisis became more manageable in China, it was only starting in North America, and health professionals in Kingston were in need of PPE. 

By April, several members of the Smith community had begun initiatives to get a supply of protective masks from China to Canada. Global partners, alumni clubs and individual students rallied to get thousands of masks delivered.

“The Smith community was quick to respond to the needs generated by the spread of COVID-19, from alumni and students pivoting their businesses and launching new initiatives to assist frontline workers and those at risk, to faculty, students, staff and local community partners coming together to support impacted businesses,” notes Dean Brenda Brouwer. “The donations of personal protective equipment from our students, alumni and partners in China further emphasize the strength and spirit of the Smith network.”

One donation, of 2,000 masks, came to Kingston from the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in Beijing. Smith’s partnership with Peking, which began in 2005, was expanded last year to allow for select Commerce students to earn a dual degree from both institutions. In a letter to Smith administration, a Peking official expressed thanks for the support the school received during the early stages of the crisis and offered to send the masks as a sign of gratitude and to provide practical help.

With thousands of business-minded alumni spanning the globe, it is no surprise that by late March, Smith alumni in China were also hard at work on a plan to help out. Members of Smith Business Club China, which represents and connects the growing number of Smith alumni in China, were eager to help out their alma mater from afar. They arranged to deliver 6,400 masks to the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) in early May.

For Smith Commerce students, international experiences are integral to their time in the program. Whether they have come to Kingston from abroad to earn their degrees or have a broadened perspective from participating in international exchange, students appreciate that they are preparing to enter an increasingly globalized business world.

This knowledge was not lost on first-year Commerce student Cindy Liang, Comm’23, who arranged a third donation of masks after seeing a tweet from KHSC regarding PPE donations. She worked with a group of former peers from her high school (Beijing’s Keystone Academy) who were interested in donating medical supplies to those in need abroad. 

“After they heard my story, they didn’t hesitate to help and generously sent many medical supplies to me, shipping a total of 14 packages to Canada,” Cindy explains.

She worked with university representatives to get the shipment into Canada and delivered 3,650 masks to KHSC.

“Looking back at the process, I have to say I am very appreciative of the help from the Queen’s community because I could not have accomplished this task without them,” says Cindy, who received help from the university’s procurement services to get the masks through customs. 

“I am glad that we could contribute to frontline medical workers in Kingston, and I am also fortunate to be part of the Queen’s community, which is filled with love and support.”

All mask donations were facilitated through 3SO (Shared Support Services Southeastern Ontario), which is responsible for sourcing and distributing PPE for the Kingston region. 

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